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Welcome to the Jungle (15)



Review by: Jack Foley | Rating: Two

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Commentary by The Rock and director Peter Berg; Producer commentary; Deleted scenes montage; 'Rumble In the Jungle' featurette; 'The Amazon' featurette; 'Hawaii Style' featurette; 'Appetite for Destruction' featurette; 'A Rockumentary' featurette; 'Running Down the Town' featurette; 'Walken's World' featurette; Theatrical trailer; Easter eggs.

YOU can guess what type of film Welcome to the Jungle will be from its opening minutes, which find former wrestler-turned-actor, The Rock, walking into a club as Arnold Schwarzenegger walks out, and wishes him good luck.

Five minutes later, the forward line of an American football team has been mercilessly beaten up, as The Rock collects the ‘bounty’ he has been paid to get.

Welcome to the Jungle, needless to say, is the type of action film that helped to launch Arnie’s career, albeit with nods to the likes of Raiders of the Lost Ark, which keeps its tongue firmly rolled into its cheek.

Yet by remaining so knowingly ridiculous, it gets away with its wilder excesses, coming across as a gloriously over the top joyride through action-adventure territory.

The Rock stars as modern day bounty hunter Beck, who must take on the inevitable ‘one last job’, in order to realise his dream of opening a restaurant.

Travelling into the heart of the Amazon jungle, with orders to collect the wise-cracking son of a crime boss (Seann William Scott), Beck instead finds himself searching for lost treasure, and having to take on Christopher Walken’s unhinged despot, Hatcher, and Rosario Dawson’s guerilla leader - not to mention the perilous terrain, some horny monkeys and the odd slice of hallucinogenic fruit.

The ensuing comedy adventure trades well on the charisma of its stars, as well as its bone-crunching action, and makes for a fun, if ultimately forgettable, night out at the cinema.

Director, Peter Berg, who has previously overseen Very Bad Things, as well as episodes of Chicago Hope, seems to have fun mixing his genres, keeping the humour light and self-deprecating throughout, and the action brisk and urgent. And he allows his actors to play to the strengths, without stretching them beyond their limits.

Hence, The Rock comes across as far more charismatic than most of the knock-around action heroes of the Eighties, while Scott is typically edgy, if a little more straight-laced than his usual American Pie/Stifler persona. Put together, the duo have chemistry.

Walken, too, appears to be having fun, even if the trademark quirky malevolence he brings to proceedings could have been plucked from any one of a number of past villains he has portrayed.

And while the film does, ultimately, lose its way amid its urgency to reach a Commando-inspired ‘one man against the odds’ finale, Berg still manages to find the comic irony of the situation.

This is, plain and simple, a Saturday night, brain-dead popcorn flick, which aspires to be nothing else - and which feels all the better for it.

Arnie’s ‘good luck’ quip at the top of the movie may not be needed, for on the evidence of this, The Rock will certainly be coming back for some time yet.

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